Devotional

Tokens of Love

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Galatians 5:22-23

A phrase of a song caught my attention, longing for “tokens of your love”. We spend a lot of time at Christmas and birthdays trying to think of ways to express our love to those who are close to us. How often is our choice determined by the response we hope to elicit?

What is a token? It is a thing serving as a visible or tangible representation of a fact, quality, feeling, etc., often given in appreciation, or as an expression of love, as the song goes. Have you ever thought about what tokens God has given to you, of His love? Perhaps while we are defining words we need to define love. What is love? One dictionary says love is “an intense feeling of deep affection”. Wikipedia expands on that:

Love encompasses a range of strong and positive emotional and mental states, from the most sublime virtue or good habit, the deepest interpersonal affection, to the simplest pleasure. 

Theologians try to explain Biblical love, by using many different words. “Love” in the Bible can’t be summed up with just a single word… “there are six different words that can be translated as love, and that doesn’t account for variants and compound words! The more literal translations of the Bible, such as the NASB, have more like 300 mentions of the word “love” because they often translate the Greek and Hebrew into more nuanced words than simply, ‘love’.”

The Apostle Paul devoted a whole chapter to describing what love looks like (1 Corinthians 13). It may be fair to say it takes a life-time to understand the complexities of love. However, one thing is made clear in scripture. “God is love” and “we love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:16, 19). Out of the abundance of His own character, God equips us to love Him. Once we have His love abiding in our hearts, we are enabled to love other people in the same way as God loves us.

Tokens of God’s love can actually be seen – they are visible qualities produced by the Holy Spirit living in us. We become more peaceable for one thing; we’ve already established our ability to love others takes on a new look. Does that mean we can love without expecting something back? Loving God’s way produces joy deep within our own hearts, because it is purely in the interests of another human being. How many of us have achieved this? Let us remember “With God all things are possible”. Those are the words of our Lord Jesus recorded by Matthew (19:26).

Have you ever experienced the deep inner satisfaction of doing something good? Perhaps you were gentle or kind when someone was troubled. This brings comfort and encouragement, tokens of love to another human being in distress. Faithfulness is also described by Paul as part of the fruit of the Spirit. There are many people living out their testimony of love in difficult circumstances, believing it is the right thing to do, for Jesus’ sake. I know someone personally who has dedicated her life to the ministry of faithfulness, which takes patience and self-control. One cannot accomplish this without God.

Reflection:

We don’t need to, nor can we, generate the love which is sourced in God alone. Anything else pales by comparison. Perhaps this is why love relationships in our world today are in so much trouble, extinguished by the smallest trifle. Biblical love “keeps no record of wrongs”. When God forgives He forgets our past sins, moving us forward into a brighter and better future. Will we do that for those who have wronged us? God’s love “rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:5b-7). Let us pray that we can pass on to others these wonderful tokens of God’s love for us!

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

A Message from the Lord

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Zechariah 12:1-13:1

Many years ago we used to sing a song:


I’ve a message from the Lord, Hallelujah!

The message unto you I’ll give.

‘Tis recorded in His Word, Hallelujah!

It is only that you “look and live”.

Refrain:

“Look and live” my brother, live.

Look to Jesus now and live.

‘Tis recorded in His Word, Hallelujah!

It is only that you look and live”.

The song goes on, sharing that it’s –“a message full of love”, one that is offered unto you”…a personal message.

A message was given to the prophet Zechariah. “This is the word of the Lord concerning Israel!” (12:1). This oracle begins by describing God’s wrath against those who attacked Jerusalem. “On that day” occurs 16 times in chapters 12, 13 and 14.

Judgment is the theme of Zechariah’s message. Immediate fulfillment occurred when Nebuchadnezzar captured Judah. The ultimate fulfillment is yet to come, “on that day” during the tribulation years. For our purposes today we will jump in towards the end of Zechariah’s prophecy.

“On that day” – a day yet in the future, Jesus will return to do battle with the nations who have persecuted Israel. Named “Faithful and True”, the Rider on a white horse will come with blazing eyes to make war (Revelation 19:11-12). Destruction of evil will be complete (29:20-21).

Zechariah informs us that at the second coming of Christ Israel will recognize Jesus as their Messiah. “They will look on Me, the One they have pierced and they will mourn….and grieve bitterly….On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be great!” (Zechariah12:10-11). However the Lord doesn’t end the story there, but gives, as He always does a continued message of hope.

“On that day a fountain will be opened to the House of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity” (Zechariah13:1). Note the promise is inclusive….“And so all Israel shall be saved” (Romans 11:26). Paul wrote further to the Roman Church: “Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments!” (Romans 11:33). You see, God had to remain true to His covenant with Israel. “They are loved on account of the patriarchs” (11:28b).

Reflection:

Note the simple message of our song captures all that will happen “On that day”. Folks who look to Jesus will live! As John watched his beloved Master dying on the cross, he was reminded of the ancient prophecy (John 19:37). This is the covenant, an everlasting, binding agreement with God’s people. Because He is faithful and True to His word, we have hope and joy and peace! Praise be to our God!

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

Can One Escape God?

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Matthew 25:31-34

Reading through the prophets, we distinctly hear the voice of God. Sometimes He is angry, sometimes He is pleading, sometimes He seems to be just biding His time. “I will remain quiet and look on from my dwelling place, like shimmering heat in the sunshine, like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.” (Isaiah 18:4-5) This is rather a pastoral view of God in His heaven, isn’t it?

Matthew Henry shed some light on this unusual passage. Apparently God’s people were being trampled on, but the perpetrator will find that in the end they are indestructible. God is waiting until the time is right to rescue His people. In the case of Cush [modern Sudan], God will show mercy. Eventually they will bring gifts to the Lord, when they recognize Him as the Almighty One (Isaiah 18:7). Ryrie suggests that these gifts will be the people of Cush, themselves.

This illustrates the day, yet to come, when the nations of the earth will be convinced that Jehovah is the true God, and Israel is His people, and unite in presenting spiritual sacrifices to His glory. Because the wicked seem to triumph for a while, let us take heart from this scripture that God does care for His people, for Israel as well as the international church.

There is a time and place for everything. Contrast this picture with the words of Jehovah in Isaiah chapter 62. “For Zion‘s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet until her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch” (:1). Note how important it is to keep verses in their context!

A Psalm illustrates not only the plan of God as seen above, but the presence of God. “You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise. You know my thoughts….You are familiar with all my ways”(Psalm 139:1-3). This can be rather disconcerting when we admit there are times when we do not understand ourselves. God knows. Amazing! Even more thrilling is God’s omnipresence. The Psalmist continues…”Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?”(:7).

Scripture is full of promises of God’s faithfulness, of His abiding with His people, of the Holy Spirit now indwelling believers (Matthew 28:20, 1 Corinthians 6:19). These bring great comfort in times of distress and hardship.

In the end, both the saved and the unsaved will come before God. Jesus describes this event “When the Son of Man comes in His glory….He will sit on His throne…..All nations will be gathered before Him and He will separate the people……the sheep on His right hand and the goats on His left…..Then the King will say – ” (Matthew 25:31-34). There is no escape! Those who follow Jesus have nothing to fear. Take heart! “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you”(:34).

Reflection:

Why would anyone want to escape God? It is impossible to hide from Him. ”Where can I go from Your Spirit O God?” (Psalm 139:7). David follows this question with several questions beginning with “if” demonstrating the omnipresence of God. There is no escaping One who is everywhere!

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

Meditate

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Joshua 1:8

Looking in my Bible’s concordance the words meditate, or meditation seem to be all in the Old Testament. One of the best-known examples of this would be God’s instructions to Joshua as God placed him in leadership of the Israelite nation, following Moses. Three times God tells Joshua there is nothing to fear; God calls him to be courageous ( Joshua 1: 6a, 7a, 9). The basis of Joshua’s confidence is two-fold. The promise – “The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (1:9). As well the law would protect him. “Be careful to obey all the law….do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth” (1:7, 8).

What does it mean to meditate? Synonyms for meditate are  muse, ponder, and ruminate. While all these words mean “to consider or examine attentively or deliberately,” meditate implies a definite focusing of one’s thoughts on something, so as to understand it deeply.

In 1 Timothy 4:15 Paul uses the Greek word for meditation. He did this because he knew that it was not immoral for the Church member to do so and because he knew that they could relate to this language.

“Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress”

Writing to the Philippian church he admonished them with a final thought: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things” (Philippians 4:8). Oh that the media today could be trained to bring us this kind of news! Our hearts grow weary hoping for some good news as wars and hatred, sex and violence , graft and corruption dominate the news. Satan has ways of drawing our thoughts far away from things that are holy.

Sadly Christians are sometimes led astray, hoping to have quick and easy devotions. Books have been written to give us just a thought for the day. Is this enough to know our God, to know either His character or His laws? David, known as a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), wrote about mediation at least twelve time in the Psalms.

He found God’s unfailing love irresistible (Psalm 48:9). Along with that He also praised God as he meditated on all His works and wonders (Psalm 77:12, 119:27, 143:5, 145:5). David mentions God’s precepts, decrees and statutes as worthy of his focus (Psalm 119:15, 48, 99).

I’ve just completed a study of the Pentateuch. The laws of the Lord are so detailed, covering every aspect of life. What does this tell us as we mediate? God cares about every detail of our lives – Jesus said that even the hairs of each head are known (counted) (Luke 12:7). When misfortune falls we want to know that God understands the minutiae of our situation. When we turn to Him, the Creator of our minds and bodies, we pray with confidence that He knows above and beyond what we can see with our mortal eyes and understanding.

Meditation is intentional. God told Joshua to “be careful” (1:7). The success of his mission would lie in his personal obedience to the law of God, if he took the time to ponder, to muse on what Moses had received from the lips of God, and had carefully written down. We know that God’s promises to Joshua held true. Because he made the right choices “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15), his life made an impact on the nation he served. “Israel served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him” (Joshua 24:31).

Reflection:

What glorious truths do we miss when we scan over a scripture, rushing to get into our day? How exciting it is to find thoughts which permeate each moment of our day with the greatness of our God! These are the thoughts which prepare our hearts to share His presence, His love and His watch-care with others whom we meet during the day. May God bless you as you meditate!

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

The Privileged Life

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Philippians 4:4, 10-13

How many of us have compared ourselves to the rich and famous from time to time, and wondered what it would be like to have no material needs? Let me share the story of a young woman I once knew. Her job took her to many countries around the world; money was not an issue in her home. Which one of us wouldn’t like to be rich enough to travel? We might forget to count the cost – consider how difficult it was for her to leave her children behind for days at time. Her health suffered from lack of proper rest and eating. She was always running, always fatigued, always feeling guilty because she couldn’t give the quality time she wanted to either her job or children, and suddenly she found herself considering suicide. Things are not always as good as they look.

Poverty comes in different packages. Some folks are rich in spirit. I remember being hosted in very humble homes in Kenya, homes where the joy of the Lord reigned over a simple cup of Kenyan tea. Yet how impoverished are the rich, who like Zacchaeus had spent his lifetime robbing folks in order to gain wealth.

What is it then, that gives us a sense of privilege? God created human beings with everything necessary for a good and happy life. Adam and Eve didn’t need clothes in order to be fashionably trendy. Their diet was very simply vegetarian. They were surrounded by beauty, and they walked with God. If it wasn’t posh, it was a privileged life.

Perhaps we need to examine our expectations. What is legitimate and what is unfortunate? The thing is – God has placed each one of us in circumstances from which we can and will, learn and grow. What we learn is up to us. Will we become bitter or better? Will we spend time regretting the past, blaming and shaming others, or will we take the gifts God has given to us and make them into something that blesses His heart?

Each one of us has been given gifts of personality and temperament. We choose what characteristics we allow to shape us, by using the strength of will God has also given to us. The whole issue is one of choice. There are heroic testimonies of folks who have overcome terrible odds – super heroes in the Para-Olympics, for example. Why are they different from another human being who moans and groan their way through daily life?

Made in the image of God, we have the privilege of choosing what we will be remembered for. Have we been generous and kind, or do self-centered habits alienate us from others? I learned from the poorest of the poor that sharing what one has, makes one feel rich.

Reflection:

Jesus challenges us today to love others as we love ourselves, because He loved us enough to die for us! This is the privileged life! God knew from the beginning that the plan of salvation included not just His chosen people, the Jews, but also included the Gentiles. He prophesied to Abraham thousands of years before Christ came to earth, that his seed would bless the nations. I am a Gentile, as probably most are, who read this. Consider the privilege we have of being grafted into the Branch, the Lord Jesus Christ! (Jeremiah 23:5) I want the whole world to know that joy and peace come from our relationship to God through the Lord Jesus, don’t you? It is my privilege to share Jesus with others, as He shared his life with me. What is your privilege?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

Tough Love

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1 John 3:1-6

Let us establish one fact to begin with. The Apostle John reassures us: “God is love….we love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:16, 19). God is the source of all true love. He goes on to say “If anyone says ‘I love God’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar” (:20). The rationale is that it is impossible to love someone you can’t see if one hasn’t been able to love the persons we do see – our brothers and sisters, and our neighbour.

The Holy Spirit living in each believer’s heart, grows fruit in us. Most of us are familiar with the verse that begins “The fruit of the Spirit is love……” (Galatians 5:22). Why does God mention love first? Is it because without love, all the other segments of fruit growing in our lives, would shrivel, distort? Love is foundational because “God is love”. Isn’t this why Jesus called each believer to “love God and love your neighbour”, naming these as the two greatest commandments? (Matthew 22:37-39).

Jesus left His disciples with a “new” commandment: “Love one another” (John 13:34). Why was this so different? The last 6 of the Ten Commandments required behaviour that was loving towards all others. ”Honour your father and mother, do not murder, do not commit adultery, don’t steal, do not bear false witness against your neighbour, do not covet your neighbour’s possessions” Exodus 20:12-17). Love requires self-restraint, which takes us back to the verses in Galatians. The only way we will know God is working in our lives is to see the changes that are being made by the Holy Spirit, one of which is ”self control” (Galatians 5:23) Wow!

When love is growing in our hearts we will be careful not to hurt someone else. Our bodies and even our tongues will be restrained. The tongue can wound another’s heart. James describes it like this: “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person” (James 3:6). However, James has also written words of great hope “If you really keep the royal law, found in scripture: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ you are doing right” (James 2:8).

Some years ago a child-rearing philosophy became popular. Use “tough love” the experts said. It wasn’t noted then but it stands to reason that the discipline required to correct another, begins with me. Therefore I must examine my own heart and life to see if I require more of someone else than I do of myself. This is why Jesus came…to show us the Father’s love! It is sacrificial. But – it is also demanding. Jesus’ death wasn’t easy – it cost Him everything! It was absolutely necessary for anyone to have a relationship with His Father. How far are we, His disciples, willing to go to put that into practise?

There is a danger that we offer a gospel of quick fix, with a love that is really meaningless. When we glimpse the agony of our Saviour on the cross our hearts are overwhelmed by His love. Then came the glory of His resurrection! Unthinkable! It is the fruit of His passionate love! The greatest of all possible hope!! Because He toughed it out to prove His love is genuine, we are offered the gift of faith.

Reflection:

Is it possible for us to receive this kind of love from the Lord Jesus Himself? Would we be strong enough to withdraw from a relationship that is inappropriate, not from lack of love, but because our love has become pure?

The Holy Spirit is pleading with each soul who hears the gospel. His love offers us the opportunity to share with others what it means to be free from the guilt with which so many live. We cannot possibly earn our salvation. We can’t even clean up our act in order to be acceptable to God. The miracle of His love is that He reaches down to lift us out of the pit and set our feet upon a rock (Psalm 40:2). This is tough love. All glory to God!

Read 1 John 3:1-6.

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

My Peace

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Isaiah 26:1-13

When my heart is troubled, how do I deal with failure feelings or challenges to my rights? Is there a human being who has not felt the sting of rejection or the pain of discrimination in big ways or in little? Injustice hits a raw nerve in all of us from time to time, doesn’t it? When feelings overwhelm us where can we turn?

Thankfully the Word of God speaks to our hurting hearts. I’ve mentioned this many times before: “You [God] will keep him /her in perfect peace whose mind is steadfast because he/she trusts in You” (Isaiah 26:3 MDV). No wonder Jesus was able to reassure His disciples: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives”. His peace was beyond anything the world could ever know. Have you ever experienced it? ….that exquisite moment when worldly cares just melt away and your heart is truly at rest? God doesn’t want our hearts to be troubled. Twice in John 14, Jesus cautions His followers “Do not let your hearts be troubled” (14:1, 27).

Troubled hearts aren’t able to rest. Hearts which are not resting in God do not have the same impact on our troubled world as hearts which are at peace. Satan is happy to ruffle our feathers because that renders us useless to God. Jesus adds another thought that troubled hearts are really afraid (John 14:27). He doesn’t want us to be afraid, but rather to be fully trusting, in spite of circumstances beyond our control. That is hard, but not impossible. Notice He is saying it in the imperative “Do not…!” It is not a suggestion. It takes determination and hard work!

Here is how it is done…”Trust in the Lord forever” (Isaiah 26:4). What do we really mean when we say we trust God? Do we let Him control the happenings in our lives, or do our plans even include Him, as we go about our daily lives? Do we live on automatic pilot, thereby not even seeing those exciting surprises that we so often miss because we are focused on what we want?

The Lord is our Rock, according to Isaiah (26:4). When we recognize the amazing stability He lends to us each day, we may find our souls yearning for Him in the night! Have you ever wakened with a sense of His presence in the darkness? What an illustration of His presence in the darkness of our world today! “In the morning my spirit longs for You” (Isaiah 26:9). Both soul and spirit rest in Him, the One through whom the world learns about righteousness (:9).

Reflection:

The subject of peace is crucial in our war-torn world today. So many families are split apart. Political leaders are torn from their posts. Violence is entering our schools making them unsafe for our precious children….and the fear grows. If only people knew the Lord. Yet, even in our churches we find competition and resentment, unfaithfulness and unforgiveness, disapproval and unacceptance. We need revival! Oh that the Spirit of our dear Lord would reign in our hearts and minds, exhibited by His amazing mercy and grace; lived out in lives of service and love. Then we would know His peace and truly be representatives of Almighty God!

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

My Covenant

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Isaiah 59:21 **

Isaiah begins Chapter 59 with a wonderful statement. “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save.” The question is : To whom does this remarkable hope extend? Is Isaiah talking to the Jewish nation or individuals of faith, or does he refer to all human beings?

Today many Christians live as the Jews did long ago. As God’s chosen people, Israel became exclusive, carrying the principle of separation from other nations out of the realm of faith. What do I mean? They forgot that households were blessed by the faith of the patriarchs. Foreigners within that household were drawn to the One True God by the wisdom of God working in and through the lives of His chosen people. In fact all in Abraham’s household (foreigners included) were circumcised as a sign of their covenant relationship with God. (Genesis 17:27)

Isn’t it thrilling to know that God extends His mercy and grace to all mankind! Looking at externals we often judge that someone is too hard, too far gone, too disinterested to be reached by the gospel. Recently I had the exquisite pleasure of listening to a young man, sharing quite unexpectedly with me how his life had been changed. He came face to face with Jesus! A drug addict around the age of 12, he continued down that path for 7 years until God got hold of his life. His tattooed body will forever hold a message of where he was, but the sparkle in his steady blue eyes tells where he is now. He was amazed to discover that God might use him to help his old friends and even his family, to whom he had always lied. Truly in this case “The Lord’s hand was not shortened”!

Isaiah describes those who were included in God’s covenant promise, categorizing their sins of injustice and evil. Repeatedly God notes the lack of truth, the propensity to lie: “Truth has fallen in the streets.” (:14) “No one calls for justice nor does any plead for truth.” (:4) ”Their feet run to evil and they make haste to shed innocent blood. Their thoughts are of iniquity.” (:7) Like the blind they walked in darkness. They growl like bears (:10-11)….and on and on.

However, because He is a covenant God, His mercy reaches down to those unable to help themselves. The Lord saw all of the darkness, evil and injustice, and was deeply displeased (:15). Knowing the utter helplessness of mankind caught in such a trap, His own righteousness came into play. With fury God scourged His adversaries in order to rescue His chosen people (:18).

Prophetically Isaiah writes “His own Arm [God’s]worked salvation for Him. Because there was no human adequate to mediate, God gave us salvation through the redemptive work of Christ, His Son! This Redeemer will come, even today, to those who turn from transgression! Imagine such mercy and grace!

For them, as for us, the covenant remains secure. “As for me, says the Lord, this is My covenant with them: “My Spirit is upon you and My words which I have put in your mouth shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants…..forevermore!” (:21)

Reflection:

Do Isaiah’s words mean anything to you today? Do you have salvation through Jesus Christ the Lord?

Are you resting in the assurance of God’s covenant, because you believe, and received Jesus as Lord?

Read John 1:12-13.

By Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

Covered With His Feathers

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Psalm 91

David begins this song with words of reassurance. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, will rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (:1). In a world torn by violence and anger, war and so many abuses, rest sounds wonderful. Our anxious hearts ache as we see the chaos around the globe. What would peace of mind feel like? How welcome to be free from fear!

Do we know the One who promises to “cover you with His feathers” where under His wings we will find refuge? Can we trust the promise of God that “His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart?” (:4) A rampart is a length of bank or wall forming part of the defensive boundary of a castle, hillfort, settlement or other fortified site. God will protect His own. Isn’t it interesting that He promises the strength of feathers as our protection! However, David’s experience taught him to trust in the Lord whom he called “my refuge and my fortress“ (:2).

Notice this promise is conditioned on one thing. “If” – that tiny word with so much meaning! “If you make the Most High your dwelling….” (:9). Dwelling is another word for home, the place where one lives. In our homes we want to feel a sense of security and safety. When a young couple sets up their first home it is with dreams that the atmosphere will be full of love. God’s love removes any terrors those who dwell in His shadow might feel, night or day (:5-7). Love goes both ways. “Because he/she loves me” the Lord said “I will rescue him/her”. In fact, if we acknowledge His name, God will protect us and will answer our prayers” (:14-15).

Who wouldn’t choose to dwell with God when we read the list of His blessings? He will honour His children with long life. He will deliver us from all sorts of things (:5, 6, 10, 13), and as Jesus prayed, extends His promise to “deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13). God’s people will be satisfied (:16). In our world today there is so much striving for bigger and better things. The attitude that allows us to have satisfaction in the moment is pushed aside, when we feel driven to compete in the workplace. Paul knew “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11). And God blesses His own, those dwelling in safety, with a visual hope of His salvation (:16).

This Psalm of praise thanks God for His judgment on the wicked (:4-9) and His blessings on the righteous (:10-15). In between, we read “For He will command His angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways”. Angels are “ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14). Throughout scripture we read about the service angels render to God, as they took messages to various people, Mary and Joseph perhaps being the best known example (Luke 1:26-36, Matthew 1:20-21). We must remember how they were warned by the angel of the Lord to flee from Herod into Egypt, with the Baby Jesus (Matthew 2:13).

Reflection:

This beautiful Psalm shows us the character of God, who longs to protect us and to bless us with His love. He generously supplies His own agents, angels, to keep our feet from slipping into sin (:12). We know from New Testament scriptures that God has also given us His Holy Spirit to grow us in His likeness (Galatians 5:22-23) and to make us agents of His peace in a world that is weary with care (Titus 3:2).

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

Principles of Suffering

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1 Peter 2:21

Peter is writing “to God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered….who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:1-2). He praises God who, because of His “great mercy” gives us “new birth” along with a “living hope” and eventual “inheritance” which is kept in heaven for each one who “through faith are shielded by God’s power….to be revealed in the last time” (1:3-5). Does this apply to you and to me today?

He then goes on to say that Salvation comes through the sufferings of Christ (1:12), which were predicted by the prophets, men who spoke about God’s anticipated grace (i.e. Isaiah 53). Let’s pause for a moment to look at the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ. Long before the cross Jesus wept over Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37). For any of us who weep over loved ones who still reject salvation through Jesus Christ, we know the suffering of His heart! He knew that everyone would not turn to God, even when He gave His life for them. We know the crowd was fickle; just as people are today. How many want what they can get [heaven], without being willing to suffer for principles seen in the life of Christ. He gave up everything…”making Himself nothing” to become a human being, humbling Himself and being obedient to death! (Philippians 2:7-8).

Jesus taught His disciples all about suffering. When He said “ the Son of Man must suffer many things” He then listed rejection by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law before He mentioned being killed (Mark 8:31). Rejection is painful. Every human being has been created with the longing to “belong”, to be significant and secure in relationships. It is hard to stay the course in the face of rejection. But, thankfully He did!

Peter goes on to describe what following Jesus looks like. Even if we suffer for doing good our hearts will be at peace because our intentions were good, and therefore our consciences are clear before the Lord. If someone speaks maliciously against us, our good behaviour may be a rebuke to them. Certainly our attitude of gentleness and respect will be a powerful testimony in the face of adversity (1 Peter 3:13-16). After all we are representing the One who cried from the cross “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing!” (Luke 23:34).

How might we respond to suffering for Jesus’ sake? Peter addresses this too. We must rejoice! Really? Yes, he writes “Rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may rejoice when His glory is revealed” (4:13). He goes on to say what he, himself, knows all too well to be true: “If you suffer as a Christian do not be ashamed”. We mustn’t forget Peter denied knowing Jesus, fearing for his life at one point in time, yet now his perspective ha s totally changed! Why? “Praise God you bear that name [Christian]”. For Peter to be a Christian meant everything! (4:16).

Reflection:


When we think of suffering, often it is with the fear of physical pain. However, emotional pain goes even deeper – right into the soul of every human being. God can rescue us from that, delivering us from evil (Matthew 6:13), as Jesus taught us to pray. The Holy Spirit infuses us with the power to be kind and good and patient (Galatians 5:22), when we encounter Satanic attacks. Let us be “strengthened with all power according to His glorious might, so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully give thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light!” (Colossians 1:11-12).

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in His steps” 1 Peter 2:21

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)